Rising to the occasion, quiet Ben Gurion Airport sees 1st hot air balloon launch
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'You can't say dreams don't come true. Sometimes it happens'

Rising to the occasion, quiet Ben Gurion Airport sees 1st hot air balloon launch

As airspace is cleared for historic flights, one operator sees silver lining, says it’s an example of something special resulting from the coronavirus pandemic

  • Hot air balloons take off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv on July 25, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Hot air balloons take off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv on July 25, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • Hot air balloons take off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv on July 25, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Hot air balloons take off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv on July 25, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • Hot air balloons take off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv on July 25, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Hot air balloons take off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv on July 25, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • Hot air balloons take off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv on July 25, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Hot air balloons take off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv on July 25, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • Hot air balloons take off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv on July 25, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Hot air balloons take off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv on July 25, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • Hot air balloons prepare to take off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv on July 25, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Hot air balloons prepare to take off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv on July 25, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • Hot air balloons take off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv on July 25, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Hot air balloons take off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv on July 25, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Four hot air balloons took off from the runways of Ben Gurion Airport on Saturday morning for the first time, after permission for the flights was given due to the relatively small number of planes taking off and landing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Airspace was closed to planes so the balloons could safely make the historic flight. Footage from the air field showed the inflated airships rising above El Al planes that have been grounded amid a labor dispute and the collapse of international travel.

The balloon operators gathered at 5 a.m. near the Terminal 3 control tower, with the balloons launching shortly after.

Balloon operator Amir Shemer told the Ynet news site that the event was an example of something special coming as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The fact that we are here this morning just shows the coronavirus can bring special things to our lives. We came here to launch four balloons in Ben Gurion Airport’s airspace on a beautiful and special morning,” Shemer said. “After circling over the terminal and over the runways, we will ascend higher and leave the airspace so that the planes can land here.”

Another operator said that it was a dream come true.

“This is a unique opportunity,” said Shai Nir. “There are no flights on a jumbo jet, so you can fly in a hot air balloon. You can’t say that dreams do not come true — sometimes it happens.”

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